"What did he say?" Abel scoots to the edge of the stump where he sits. This is the explanation of his existence, his story of origins. He doesn’t want to miss any details.
"Well, like I said, son, the serpent was a crafty creature, and he had his plan all laid out. But first I want to tell you about his voice. I can still hear it clear as the cooing of the morning doves at sunrise. The way the legless serpents hiss these days, you would think his voice would have been be raspy and deep, oozing with rage and hatred.
"But it was quite the contrary. The serpent’s voice sounded almost like God’s, except with considerably less force. He spoke in a sort of sing-song chant that was very pleasing to the ears. He was polite and inviting, as if we’d just stepped into a party in his living room, and the forbidden fruits were hors d’oeuvres. The first time we heard him speak (or sing), we thought God himself had joined us in the garden for a midday walk.
"As your mother ventured closer to the center of the garden, the serpent noticed her. At first, it just seemed like he was lonely, like he hadn’t had any conversation in a very long time.
"He began talking to Eve about God--his goodness and love, his majesty and grandeur, his willingness to bless us--and then he asked a strange question:
"Eve, does it ever feel like God’s holding out on you?" asked the serpent, trying to make his voice sound genuinely concerned.
"What do you mean?" Eve replied.
"You know, that God’s not really giving you as much as he could," said the serpent, doing his best not to let his tone show how annoyed he was at her naivete.
"I guess I’ve never really thought about it too much. Adam and I have always had everything we need, and we enjoy God’s company daily. What else is there that he could give besides Himself and his creation?"
The serpent looked pensive before he launched his next question.
"Well, he could allow you to eat the fruit of the trees in his ‘creation,’" he said, unable to hide the scorn in his voice. "Isn’t it true that he doesn’t allow you to eat fruit from here?"
The question was outlandish considering the fact that the serpent had been watching us pick and eat all kinds of ripe fruits from the trees on the outer limits of the clearing. We had only stayed away from the center where the forbidden trees stood. For some reason, as the conversation went on, their fruits looked bigger and juicier than ever.
"Of course we can eat fruit from the trees in the garden. How would we survive otherwise?" Eve was as close to annoyed as she had ever been up to that point in life. You see, arguments and annoyances as we know them now did not exist back in our homeland. They subtly crept in later. "The only trees we can’t eat from are right there."
Eve pointed to the imposing trees in the center of the clearing. Her gaze lingered there longer than it ever had before. Seeds of desire began to form in her heart, even though she still didn’t quite understand where the serpent was going with this conversation.
"Oohhh," said the serpent, as if he was surprised. "So what’s the big deal with those trees? Why not them?"
"I’m not sure, but I don’t want to die finding out," Eve said.
"Yes, God says we will die if we eat of those trees," Eve said. I felt so proud that I she remembered the only rule we ever had to learn. I had taught it to her the day she came forth from my side and we had recited it every night before going to sleep.
"That’s simply not true. If you died, God’s whole experiment would be a failure and all the heavenly beings would laugh their heads off for eternity," the serpent said sarcastically.
Eve’s blank stare told him that she wasn’t up to speed on the unseen realm, so he rephrased his comment.
"God loves you too much to let you die. He just knows that you’ll be able to discern good and evil like him if you eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
"Like Him? We can be like God?" Eve was awestruck at what she had heard. God was the most admirable being in the universe, and if wisdom was what it took to be like him, she would love to get it.
"Just like him," the serpent said with a sly smile. He nodded toward the tree as if to say, Go ahead; try some.
By this time, I had overheard everything and had walked over to see what was going on. I arrived just in time to see my wife reach up and use both hands to pluck a large fruit from the drooping branches of the Tree of Knowledge.
She looked at me, and then at the serpent’s pasted grin. Then she raised the fruit to her mouth…